It's kinda crazy. "It" being that, while this year is showing out in a billion different ways, on many levels, I feel more peaceful than I ever have. One day, maybe I'll get into how I know a big part of that came from removing some people, places, things, and ideas (boundaries; boundaries are good, y'all) that were no longer serving me—and, more importantly, where I am headed. Yet, my inner peace goes even beyond that.
For about 12 years now, I've been on the tip of collecting things. Each year, it's something that symbolizes where I'm at and "what I'm on" at the moment. This past year, it was puzzle pieces. They symbolize that I am a puzzle piece that "fits" some places and doesn't fit others. My job isn't to try and force my "piece" into any picture (because that could damage the piece and pic, simultaneously) but to welcome where I fit and be at peace with where I don't. And you know what? Living like this has brought about inner tranquility that is unshakeable, no matter how chaotic things seem to be right through here. Or ever.
Just know that whatever is trying to shake you to your core, there is a way to maintain peace in the midst of it. Here are some suggestions that have worked for me.
Create Your Own “Bubble”
When I took my required birthing class (which was Hypnobabies) in order to become a doula, one of my favorite techniques, that I tend to recommend, even to women who aren't pregnant, is what is known as the "bubble of peace". Anyone who's been pregnant before knows that people tend to have an abundance of opinions, perspectives and information about what they think a new mother should and shouldn't do, both during her pregnancy and after she gives birth. By creating a bubble of peace, she is able to tune out anyone and anything that is triggering her or stressing her out.
At the end of the day, it's basically about meditating and centering in on thoughts that make you feel calm and peaceful. And I promise you that if you make it a priority to cultivate your own, it can help you to tune out life's background noise so that you can focus on what your mind, body and spirit are telling you that you need, at any given time—even if what they need is for you to simply chill out and do absolutely nothing.
Take News (and Phone) Breaks
Something that I've learned about myself throughout the years is that I have a really high threshold for information. What I mean by that is, it takes me a while—months even—to get to a point where I'm like, "OK, I've had enough" (although 2020 has definitely been testing me in this way!). But boy, when I first saw the footage of George Floyd being murdered by those cops, I broke. I cried. I had to shut the news cycle down for a minute. I had had enough.
You can read articles like TIME's "You Asked: Is It Bad for You to Read the News Constantly?" to know that there is no way around the fact that constantly taking in the news (or info, period), whether it's online or off, will not only elevate your stress levels but it can cause you to fall into the rut of constantly seeing things from a "glass half empty perspective". Same thing goes for always talking on the phone, especially if it's with family members or friends who consistently err on the side of negativity. That's why it's so important to take intentional breaks from the news and your phone. Turn off your notifications. Put your phone on silent. Then read a book. Watch a movie. Listen to music. Take a nap. Do something that will totally get your mind off of all that's going on in the world. Chile, Daily Mail, Black Twitter and your cynical auntie ain't going nowhere. They'll all be right where you left them—whenever you decide to come back.
Be on Your Own Time Schedule
Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. So yeah, whenever seniors in my life try and act like it's only this generation that is wilin' out, I remind them of what the Good Book says. The difference now is thanks—or maybe no thanks—to things like the internet and camera phones, we're constantly in the loop of what's going on…pretty much all over the globe. And since things seem to be always moving at such a rapid pace, it can tempt us to speed up when it comes to how our own lives are flowing. Please don't fall for that trap. Rushing can cause you to make unnecessary mistakes. Rushing can bring about feelings of anxiety. Rushing can stop you from truly connecting with others. Rushing can prevent you from getting the clarity that you need. Rushing can hinder you from living in the moment.
While I'm sharing Scripture, Matthew 6:34(NKJV) states, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Those are words of wisdom from Christ himself. What he was basically saying is, all you've really and truly got is right here and now. Slow down. Take it in. Do what is relevant in order to bring out the best in this present moment.
Should you plan ahead? Sure. All responsible people do. Yet should you worry about what you can't control in the future or even be in a rush to get there? Nope. Not if you desire true inner peace, you shouldn't, anyway.
Find a “Vent” Partner
There is a particular person in my life who is basically my vent partner. I'm not sure how we got to the point and place of being that for one another, but the "position" requires being on-call—whenever. When she's about the spaz TF out, she calls me. When I need to ramble, cuss or sometimes even scream, she's there. The cool thing about having this type of individual in your life is there are a safe place (because they don't share your vents nor "judge" you for them) to get out your initial frustrations so that you can calm down and do, whatever it is that you're about to do (or not do), from a less emotional and more logical and practical space.
Sometimes, the reason why we feel so unsettled when it comes to what's going on around us is it seems like we're not being heard or validated when it comes to how we feel about things. A vent partner fills this void so that we know we're supported, which makes us feel more capable to endure…whatever it is that needs to be.
Do What Makes You Happy
Happiness. Remember that? When I was recently reading an article on how some researchers define what it truly means to be a happy individual, I liked that it said, "It's not about smiling all the time nor does it stem from money or health, but a self-belief you are on the road you want to be on." The beauty in that resolve is, no matter what is happening around you, in many ways, you have the power to choose what path you want to be on; not just long-term but in the now. So, what would make you happy, right at this very second? Some Ben & Jerry's ice cream (shout out to them and their consistent support of the Black Lives Matter movement)? A glass of wine? Catching up with an old friend? Some hanging-off-of-the-chandelier sex with your partner? Playing with your kids. Doing an arts and crafts project? Writing? Singing? Podcasting? What?
Making the conscious decision to be like, "You know what? No matter what y'all are doing, I'm going to take out a moment and do what makes me happy", is not about being selfish or even insensitive. As the article that I referenced said, it's about putting yourself on a particular path. And anything that makes you feel happy can help to make you feel content…which can help to make you feel more centered and secure…which can definitely help to make you feel more peaceful.
Remember You’re Here “For Such a Time As This”
If you read the story of Esther in the Bible, there is a line from something that her cousin, Mordecai said that goes like this—"Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14—NKJV) It was his way of reminding Esther that, even though saving her people was going to be quite a daunting task, the fact that she existed in a time when Jews needed deliverance was not a happenstance thing. In this present time, the same goes for me and the same goes for you. While I'm sure you've had multiple, "What in the world is going on?!" moments, probably at least a dozen times this week alone, it's not a "random" thing that you exist. There is something about your gifts, talents, personality, perspective and mere existence that is oh so very necessary—right here and right now. Knowing that you—as Whoopi Goldberg once said in an episode of A Different World—"are a voice in this world", who can make an impact like no one who came before you or will come after you can, should bring a peace like nothing else.
Because if you didn't serve a purpose, you wouldn't be here; you'd be unnecessary. You are here, though. And that's something to feel really good, resolved and totally at peace about. Here's praying that you do.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
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September is National Self-Care Awareness Month, so for my girlies who have been putting off self-care, here’s your opportunity to start. Self-care means exactly what it says: taking care of self. Why is it important? Well, many of us have busy lives that may include careers, family, and activities that consume us daily. Taking some time for self regularly can help prevent depression, stress, anxiety, and burnout.
In February 2023, Future Forum polled 10,243 people in six countries, including the U.S., and 40% said they are experiencing burnout, and 46% of that number are women. According to CNBC, many factors contributing to burnout include companies demanding employees return to the office, hiring freezes, and layoffs.
Psychologist Debbie Sorensen explained to CNBC why women and millennials are experiencing burnout in higher numbers. “We haven’t had time to recover from the trauma of what we’ve been through the last few years,” she said. “Women and young people, in particular, are putting an immense amount of pressure on themselves to keep going, keep working, no matter the cost.”
As women, particularly Black women, we tend to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. Other people's problems become our problems, and then we are expected to show up to work and show up for our family and friends with a smile on our faces. Whew, chile! What if we are having a bad day? How are we supposed to cope if we have to be everything to everyone? Well, here’s your sign to make time for yourself, especially on the days when you are feeling down.
Below is a list of self-care ideas for when you are having a bad day.
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Spend time in nature
Sometimes something as simple as surrounding yourself with trees, grass, and/ or water can improve your mood exponentially. The American Psychological Association’s (APA) research shows that spending time in nature can improve attention, lower stress, and reduce the risk of psychiatric disorders.
Got to a Spa
There’s nothing like going to a spa. You can relax in a sauna, get a massage, and just be. According to research, massages help release serotonin and dopamine, which are often referred to as “feel good” hormones, that will instantly perk you up and have you going about your day with a smile on your face.
When was the last time you did arts and crafts? Drawing a picture, painting, or even coloring can help you discover your inner child, thus boosting your mood. Purchase an adult coloring book, or go to a paint-and-sip class by yourself, or you can make it a group activity and bring your besties.
Look your best
The old saying, “When you look good, you feel good,” didn’t just come out of thin air. There’s some truth to it. The Kentucky Counseling Center shared a link between self-care and feeling good. “Self-care regimens are extremely important not just to stabilize your day but to make you feel great. Simple things like getting a facial, taking care of your hair done, or exercising can make you confident because when you look good, you also feel good,” according to its website.
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There’s a reason why it is suggested that you breathe when you begin feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. Breathing brings oxygen back into your body, and WebMD reports that it can decrease the fight or flight response that happens when you are stressed.
Spend time with babies
I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me smile quicker than a baby, especially a smiling baby. If you’re the same way, then spending time with a baby or babies may help put you in a better mood, too.
Last but certainly not least, do nothing. There’s nothing like laying in your bed and not being forced to do anything. Stay in this moment and use this time to relax and replenish your energy.
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